The Axenstrasse is both the lifeline and problem offspring of central Switzerland. Accidents happen frequently on narrow roads. One of the most dramatic happened this weekend when a car broke off a railing and crashed into Lake Lucerne.
Progress on the road’s restoration has been slow over the years. In the early 1970s, the federal government appointed the cantons of Schwyz and Uri to form a new Exenstrae. A project for this is in existence since 2014. The planned bypass road with two new tunnels is to be built at Sisikön UR and Morsch SZ, but is controversial in central Switzerland.
alpine safety articles
Blick reporter on the site: “It’s a really dangerous place”,04:05,
Reasons for not going ahead with the planned road: The Alpine Initiative, VCS Uri and VCS Schwyz, as well as environmental protection doctors, submitted an objection in 2014. “We can swallow the toad along the new road, including the tunnel,” says Django Betschart (31), manager of the Alpine Initiative. However, environmental organizations are against the grain that the back road has not been sufficiently decontaminated.
“Then we will have four lanes of traffic and thus a significant extension of the road,” says VCS Uri managing director Alf Arnold (72). The Alpine Initiative adopted by the people forbids such expansion. The Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen will now have to decide the extent to which the new construction of Exenstrasse and the continued existence of the current Exenstrasse violates the Alpine Protection Article, which requires that the Alpine area be protected from transit traffic.
The earliest new road in 2031
The Department of Environment and Transport (UVEK) approved the new Axenstrasse in April 2020. However, environmental organizations were right in that they asked those responsible for the project to modify the accompanying measures on the old Exenstrasse. UVEK wanted to resolve the conflict with the Alpine Conservation article as follows: in the future, the old road should be available primarily to non-motorized traffic, i.e. pedestrians and cyclists, and to reach the village of Sisicone. There should not be much motorized traffic.
Cantonal officials assured Blick that they were redesigning the measures. “But they should only happen when the new road is commissioned,” says André Ruegseger (46), head of the canton of Schwyz’s building department. It will take years. Best of all, the new route will be opened in 2031.
Drone footage from the crash site: This is where the extreme drama happened,00:37,
road is still needed
Also, if the new road is closed due to an accident, the previous road should also serve as a bypass in future. “So it should also be wide enough for cars and transport vehicles in the future.”
These assurances are not enough for environmental organizations. They want to make sure the road will be truly traffic-quiet in the future. So they await the decision of St. Gallen’s Court. When this will be decided is not certain. Furthermore, the decision is not final. It can then be taken to federal court.
Experts at the accident site: “Guard rail could have saved the car from falling”,01:42,